While at FITC I had the opportunity to stop by the FDT booth and check out the latest version of their Eclipse based ActionScript code editor. I was actually surprised to see FDT with a booth at the show and even more surprised to be given a software demo by Nico Zimmermann, the creator of FDT.
I cut my teeth on Eclipse based Flash development with Nico’s open source ASDT plugin (.7 release) so it was great to meet the cat who played a significant role in shifting my development workflow.
It’s been awhile since I took a look at FDT, but after the demo and a few days of trial I’d have to say I’m impressed. For those familiar with the amazing capabilities of the JDT (it damn near reads my mind and writes my code), FDT is the closest thing you’ll find in the ActionScript world.
FDT supports lots of the refactoring and context intelligence / assistance, formatting, templates (I’d forgotten how much I miss those) and problem detection you would expect from a JDT mimic. It’s not full on JDT goodness, but it’s definitely a step or three up from Adobe’s AS3 Flex editor.
Probably the greatest strength of FDT is that it has killer code editing support for both AS3 and AS2 which is nice since there are still an awful lot of of AS2 projects out there. It’s great not having to jump between perspectives and the jarring differences there are between my current AS2 and AS3 workflows.
Now its not all roses for FDT. The biggest issue is its just not affordable for individual developers. The FDT 3.0 Basic edition prices out at $512, Professional at $684 and Enterprise at $1026 (US dollars). I don’t know about you, but that’s an awful lot of shekels for a pure code editor. You also don’t have access to a debugger unless you shell out for the enterprise edition. Finally, there’s no visual layout view, no MXML editor, no profiler (If you have insights into how Adobe’s profiler can be used I believe Nico would welcome an email)
and no AIR support.
The steep price and lack of MXML / visual designer are show stoppers for me as an individual developer and at work (the folks who have the real money) we’re already invested in Flex 3, so it looks like I just have a little less than 30 days to enjoy it. However, if you’re an AS3 purist, have the bones (or your work does) and want a killer code editor I’d urge you to take a strong look at FDT 3.0 Enterprise.
Now what I’d really like to see happen is Adobe purchases FDT, open sources it (ala JDT) and builds its AS3 editor on top of it…I can dream right. ;-)
*Update* As PK mentions in the comments, AIR is supported (looks like you just have to add it to the FDT class path in the Eclipse preferences pane).